MUTUALITIES; LIVES INTERWOVEN, 2018-
2019

Screen with integrated lighting (digital media art by Sohan Ariel Hayes) 

Special thanks to the community collaborators; former nurses and patients of Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital, that contributed their life stories to create this work. In particular, Tessa Jupp CEO of the Post Polio network and author of Poliomyelitis in Western Australia. This work aims to celebrate their lives and remind the community of their contribution to WA history. Thanks also to Jessica Priemus for her contributions.

MaterialsAluminium, galvanised steel, polyurethane paint, LED programmable lighting 
37m w x 5m wide x 2.1m high

Photos by Douglas Mark Black 
Detail photos by Penelope Forlano

 

Mutuality is the shared positive or interactive relationship between two or more parties, which was the cornerstone to life and stories from the former Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital. This artwork thus echoes the interwoven lives of the hospital staff and patients, and their stories of trauma, setbacks, rehabilitation and resilience.

The former patients, visitors and staff often defined this site as akin to entering “another world”. The hospital predominantly accommodated people with spinal disease or injury, often characterised by disconnection; a body that was fractured, misaligned or neurologically impaired. Outside, life continued on, but inside life was intense. Patients were often physically trapped in paralysis while their minds were vibrantly active, similarly, staff needed to be exhibit care and slowness, yet also race against time to find cures or rehabilitation of unfamiliar diseases or injuries. It was a place of starkly contrasting movement and speed.

Functionally, this artwork physically acts as a permeable screen enabling passive surveillance and discouraging children from chasing a ball onto the road from the public open space while also celebrating extraordinary individuals, community history and identity. 

    

Ten quotes from former hospital staff and patients describe their lives marked by challenge, movement or stillness, the joy of regained movement and resilience. 

 

These dualities of movement are captured by the upright consistent posts in gradients of yellow and orange, set against the alternating posts that are misaligned or 'fractured' to further echo bodily disconnection. When moving around the work, particularly at speed, the work evokes a kinetic or moiré effect, whilst being fixed in place.

The artwork is positioned in a liminal space, highlighting this boundary between ‘outside’ and this ‘other world’ whilst also creating two very different impressions from each side. When approaching the work on foot from the north or south ends, the acute angle gives an impression of a closed barrier, the street side or ‘outside’ impression dominated by vertical, consistent and a gradient of yellow colours, this represents the life anticipated. In contrast, the alternating posts reflect the narrative of trauma, stabilisation, rehabilitation, secondary setbacks and re-stabilisation, through the movement of the pink, blue and green sloping, misaligned and realigned posts. From the public open space, the interwovenness of the two layers of posts dominate.

The colours mimic the former hospital’s signage distinctive colours to further serve as a mnemonic tool for the hospital community returning to the site.

The project also includes a discrete yet integrated digital media artwork by Sohan Airiel Hayes utilising state-of-the-art lighting. The animated night illumination dances across the artwork reinforcing the gait-like movement of the form, with pools of light representing individuals walking together, supporting one another, coming together and perhaps too, at times, moving apart.